Developing a vulnerability reference framework for Cape Town International Airport in the context of carbon uncertain futures

Allemeier, Jodi (2012-03)

Thesis (MDF)--Stellenbosch University, 2012.


In recent years there has been a growth in literature from multiple disciplines on the potential effects of climate change and a corresponding growth in literature on potential mitigation and adaptation response strategies, including multiple means of shifting to a low-carbon future. Multiple assessment techniques have been developed to understand the potential vulnerability to, and impacts of climate change. At the same time, there is a lack of methodology to understand the potential vulnerability to, and impacts of, responses to climate change on a micro level. This research report describes the development of a reference framework to be used to monitor the vulnerability of the Cape Town International Airport to changes in carbon pricing and/or a shift to a low-carbon future. A theoretical approach was taken, which reviews existing techniques and proposes an integrated framework approach which was then applied to the case study of Cape Town International Airport. Existing literature on what is understood by a low carbon future shows that there is uncertainty about what mitigation and adaptation approaches will be adopted on various scales, and, similarly, uncertainty on what this means for a low carbon economy. Existing scenario development, vulnerability assessment, risk assessment and impact assessment methodologies were then reviewed, revealing a dearth of integrated approaches and an emphasis on the direct impacts of climate change, with a lack of attention to the impacts of responses to climate change. Finally, an overview of what are considered key driving forces in airport feasibility is provided in order to identify potential areas of vulnerability that require attention in any assessment of an airports’ vulnerability to different futures. Building on the various methodologies reviewed, and the understanding of key airport drivers, a reference framework is developed with special focus on the Cape Town International Airport and its current financial structure and planning framework. The final section of the paper discusses preliminary findings as illustrative of the approach, concluding that the framework can be applied via multidisciplinary collaboration, but that further work would be required both internally and externally in order to better manage uncertainties.

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